Hangzhou has a variety of dining options, but one of the things that always seemed to be in short supply, along with strip clubs and hotrod museums, were authentic Beijing Duck Restaurants. Sure, some restaurants serve a Beijing-style duck here, but there’s no point in elaborating on that because a.) it undermines the initial argument and b.) were they any good, we’d know about them. It’s irrelevant anyway, because there’s a new place in town that’s going to blow those fly-by-night duck shops right out of the water.
Nestled in the manicured greenery along the north side of the Grand Canal on Lishui Road, just west of Daguan Road is Madame Zhu’s Kitchen; an upscale restaurant serving up some of the best Beijing duck we’ve had outside the nation’s capital. The Feng Shui’d grounds sandwich the open, plantation-style, dining area between two courtyards. The floor to ceiling windows allow for ample natural light, and reveal a clean, sophisticated, dining area as elegant as it is understated. On the second floor, you’ll find private, VIP rooms offering up an exclusive menu and a 10% service charge.
If you’re headed to Madame Zhu’s to nosh on some lacquered quacker*, you’ll want to call ahead to reserve your duck (168RMB), which comes straight from Beijing’s famed Quanjude. We were unaware of this the day we went, so we had to wait about an hour, fortunately, the other dishes we ordered came quickly, so it was not a big deal, but we foresee this place quickly becoming perpetually packed so it would be in your best interests to call ahead.
We started with a salad of fresh vegetables mixed with thinly-sliced smoked pork and cheese with sesame dressing on the side (36RMB). What the menu won’t tell you is the sesame dressing is loaded with wasabi, so keep in on the side, and just dip the salad into it; otherwise all you’re going to taste is burning. Next up was the Wild Mushroom and Taro (38RMB) which pleased everyone. Very innovative. Very tasty. The fried jumbo shrimp with lemon zest (78RMB) were devoured by everyone, including a picky 1-year-old, but the penultimate dish in regards to popularity was the Kung Pao Chicken (38RMB). Their superbly-balanced, sweet and spicy, rendition of this classic dish was fantastic. It even tasted great when combined with our duck, which arrived shortly thereafter.
Anyone who’s ever had good Beijing duck knows how good its crispy-skinned succulence can be, and Madame Zhu’s bird was no exception. It was the highlight of the meal and should be your sole reason for going. The rest of the food served as a great supporting cast, but the star here is the duck.